LA TESTE-DE-BUCH, France (AP) — A heat wave broiling Europe spilled northward Monday to Britain and fueled ferocious wildfires in Spain and France, which evacuated thousands of people and scrambled water-bombing planes and firefighters to battle flames in tinder-dry forests.
Two people were killed in the blazes in Spain that its prime minister linked to global warming, saying, “Climate change kills.”
That toll comes on top of the hundreds of heat-related deaths reported in the Iberian peninsula, as high temperatures have gripped the continent in recent days and triggered wildfires from Portugal to the Balkans. Some areas, including northern Italy, are also experiencing extended droughts. Climate change makes such life-threatening extremes less of a rarity — and heat waves have come even to places like Britain, which braced for possible record-breaking temperatures.
The hot weather in the U.K. was expected to be so severe this week that train operators warned it could warp the rails and some schools set up wading pools to help children cool off.
In France, heat records were broken and swirling hot winds complicated firefighting in the country’s southwest.
“The fire is literally exploding,” said Marc Vermeulen, the regional fire service chief who described tree trunks shattering as flames consumed them, sending burning embers into the air and further spreading the blazes.